Bethany United Church of Christ is a small, rural church in Claremont, North Carolina, a conservative Southern area. Four years ago, Bethany’s church building was being used only on Sunday mornings for worship and on Wednesday evenings for the choir. The community surrounding Bethany is diverse in ethnicity and many are low-income.
The congregation decided to take a leap of faith and started an after-school ministry—the Bethany UCC Before and After School All Stars, which serves K-7th grade.
• After the first year, 16 students participated.
• Bethany offered an All Star Summer Camp after first school year; opened from 6:30 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.
• 12 youth were hosted the first summer, and many of them joined school year program.
• In current programs, there are 10 youth in Before School, 26 in After School, and 20+ in Summer.
• Ministry is also open on teacher work days and during other school breaks while parents work.
• Students are from three3 local schools; one has bussing, and Bethany provides a church van for other two.
The ministry is a tutoring program with a director, assistant director, and four counselors from local high schools.
• Each child completes their homework before their parents pick them up.
• The students get help with their homework and it's checked for accuracy.
• Special math and reading comprehension help provided after homework is finished.
• 30 minutes of reading per day is also required.
• Every child is routinely on the A or A, B honor roll (most are on the A).
• Students have daily devotions and time for recreation and nutrition (provided).
The congregation installed a new playground and basketball hoop and provides scholarship funds and snacks for the youth. The All Stars students do a combined Christmas Program with the Bethany youth and attend Bethany’s Sensational Sunday Events. Reverend Colleen Samson, Pastor at Bethany, says, “Parents are so pleased with the program…. Bethany is intentionally creating relationships with parents and youth through this ministry to introduce them to the church.”
Check out pictures of Bethany UCC’s All Stars program on the UCC Congregational Vitality Facebook page. Small rural churches can dream big dreams and make a great impact in their community! Congratulations to Bethany All Stars and Bethany UCC, a recipient of a grant from our Local Church Ministries Funding for New, Renewing and Multiplying Churches.
How is your congregation reaching out to your community school children?
Blessings in your ministry,
United Church of Christ
Congregational Assessment, Support and Advancement - Local Church Ministries
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